What are the Moral Sciences?
The Moral Sciences comprise Psychology, Philosophy, Economics, Ethics, placed in the context of history and human nature. These subjects were taught integrated prior to the over-specialization that evolved in 20th century universities. While specialization is the key to both growing knowledge and an advanced economy, as early as early as 1959, C.P. Snow pointed to the problems in knowledge this could produce in his essay The Two Cultures.
This separation has reinforced the notion that economics is a “dismal science,” that psychology is fun, but useless, and Philosophy – well, really? Increasingly, universities are integrating fields in recognition that a) dealing with complex problems requires knowledge from mulitple discplines, b) students learn faster and more effectively when knowledge is integrated, and c) that keeping professors and disciplines in their respective silos only worsens the problem that Snow called to our attention. Stanford's recent outgoing President credited their rise from a strong regional university over the past few decades to their willingness to teach interdisciplinary; for example, their newest building houses professors from seven different fields!
The University of Arizona -- ranked the number one political science department in the world -- in 2018 renamed their department "Political Economy & Moral Science." At Reagan, I had a Moral Sciences banner, signifying my commitment to that approach, since 2010. I trained at the University of Arizona in 2017, and we will be offering their course "Ethics, Economy, & Enterpreneurship" in the Fall semester of 2021.
To complete the Moral Sciences at Reagan (AP Psychology, AP Macroeconomis, Philosophy) is to immerse yourself in the study of humane science, not disconnected from our humanity or from other disciplines. It is to attempt to identify human nature, humans can improve but not be improved, and how in turn that cultivates a prosperous, free society that respects human beings as individuals. It is to study the limits of human knowledge and the abuse of reason. It is to recognize that the methodologies of the so-called hard sciences, such as Chemistry and Physics, are not applicable to humans. The Social Sciences have different methodologies devised to study humans, not forces of nature.
F.A. Hayek, in his seminal work "The Counter-Revolution of Science: studies in the abuse of reason," wrote this:
"The more our technical civilization advances and the more, therefore, the study of things as distinct from the study of men and their ideas qualifies for the more important and influential positions, the more significant becomes the gulf that separates two different types of mind: the one represented by the man whose supreme ambition is to turn the world round him into an enourmous machine, every part of which, on his pressing a button, moves according to his design; and the other prespresented by the man whose main interest is the growth of the human mind in all its apsects, who in the study of history or literature, the arts or the law, has learned to see the individual as part of a process in which his contribution is not directed but spontaeous, and where he assists in the creation of something greater than he or any other single mind can ever plan for."
A.P. Psychology studies how psychology has evolved as a science, through the main schools of thought, to modern brain scans and what they do -- and to not -- reveal. We’ll study the biological basis of behavior and the evolutionary advantage our behaviors provide. Learn how to set up double-blind studies and falsify theories. Memory, language, intelligence (inherited or learned?), personality theory, mental disorders, the difference between being in love and loving, and the biological basis of beauty are all covered.
Philosophy studies metaphysics (the nature of things), epistemology (how we know what we know), ethics (how should we act), political philosophy (which social systems produce which outcomes), logic (how to think rationally), aesthetics (the study of beauty & form), and Eastern philosophy (Zen, Taoism, Confucianism). Also, will learn how to write for the "real world."
A.P. Macroeconomics studies the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole, such as national income, price determination, economic performance measures, economic growth and international economics. Students will learn the big ideas that have moved free economies forward (specialization, comparative advantage, opportunity cost, spontaneous order) and the big names who discovered them (Smith, Ricardo, Bastiat, Keynes, Friedman, Hayek, Mises).
Ethics, Economy & Entrepreneurship is an advanced social studies course combining the principles of economics, ethics, and entrepreneurship. How do we harness self-interest so that it creates value for other people? How do we develop the skills that make those around us better off? What kind of life do you want to live? What kind of society do you want to live in? These fundamental questions we will explore as we examine human nature and the legal-institutional arrangements in society. Entrepreneurship revolves around the skills and aptitudes necessary to leverage initiative into successful outcomes, whether as a small business owner, an employee, or a volunteer. This course serves as a moral foundation for careers in law, economics, politics, journalism, and business.